As we approach the penultimate Bundesliga weekend, there is still all to play for at both ends of the table with the title race and the fight against relegation both going down to the wire. So, who were the winners and losers of matchday 32?
As the race for the Meisterschale continues to be the tightest in years, both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund enjoyed big wins this weekend in their battle for pole position. Bayern notched up another big win over Schalke hitting six goals at the Allianz Arena, while BVB hit five past Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Signal Iduna Park.
With just two games left Bayern retain their one-point lead, although they face a tough assignment next week against RB Leipzig, while Dortmund take on FC Augsburg.
In the big clash with Freiburg, it was Union who emerged triumphant and now hold a distinct advantage in the race for a top four finish. Kevin Behrens opened the scoring early on before a quick-fire double from Sheraldo Becker within the space of a minute just before half time.
The visitors did bring the score back to 3-2 with goals from Manuel Gulde and Vincenzo Grifo, but the two-goal cushion was restored ten minutes from time by Aissa Laidouni. Urs Fischer’s side now have a three-point lead over Freiburg.
Baumgart celebrated signing a two-year extension to his contract this week with a 5-2 win over Hertha Berlin at the Rhein-Energie Stadion on Friday. A week after their victory over local rivals Leverkusen, the Billy Goats made it two wins on the trot to climb to tenth in the table.
If it hadn’t been for the heroics of Oliver Christensen, the margin of victory could have been higher, but goals from Davie Selke, Timo Hübers (two), Ellyes Skhiri and Denis Huseinbasic sealed the three points.
When the going gets tough, Bochum get going. Another big game at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion saw the home side emerge triumphant and grab a potentially vital three points in their quest to stay up this season.
An early goal from Christopher Antwi-Adjei was cancelled out by Arne Maier’s equaliser on the half hour mark. An own goal from Jeffrey Gouweleeuw restored the lead before captain Anthony Losilla fired home a minute later aided by a deflection from Elvis Rexhbecaj. A late goal from Kelvin Yeboah proved too little, too late and the Ruhr side extricated themselves from the bottom three thanks to Schalke’s loss at Bayern.
There may have been a coronation in England this week, but Thomas Müller confirmed his place amongst Bayern Munich’s royalty with a top display against Schalke at the end of a week where his future at the club had been brought into question.
The Raumdeuter opened the scoring and had seven shots on goal as well as providing numerous assists. With questions being asked, Mr. Bayern Munich responded in the best way possible with his display against the Königsblauen. “I’m pleased I could open the scoring today” he said afterwards. “It was a great feeling. The Arena exploded and we kept going. My heart is red. Well, everyone’s is red, but mine is maybe a bit more red.”
Dortmund might be wondering what could have been had they had a fully firing Sebastien Haller right from the start of the season. His testicular cancer diagnosis robbed him of the majority of the season, but he has started to show his goalscoring touch as BVB hunt the title in the closing weeks. A sublime backheel finish against Mönchengladbach was the pick of his two goals on Saturday evening as the Schwarzgelben hit five goals to keep their title dreams alive. Haller now has seven goals this season.
The relegation trapdoor is open and Hertha Berlin now have one foot firmly in it. A heavy defeat at Köln on Friday means they are six points away from safety with two games left. The absolute best they can hope for in a play-off spot if they win their remaining games and those above them drop maximum points.
After getting themselves into a 2-1 lead following Davie Selke’s (who else) opener, their usual defensive frailties came to the fore and played into the hands of an energetic Köln side. The inevitable relegation now seems a foregone conclusion with only a miracle able to save die Alte Dame from retirement from the Bundesliga.
Having just saved Felix Uduokhai’s bacon by saving a potential own goal, Augsburg’s stand-in keeper Tomas Koubek was helpless soon after when centre back Gouweleeuw stuck out a foot to deflect Christopher Antwi-Adjei’s centre into his own net. The Dutchman hasn’t scored this season and he chose the worst possible time to finally put the ball in the (wrong) net with the Fuggerstädter tinkering ominously with relegation at this late stage of the season.
After two wins on the trot, Schalke were brought rudely back to earth with a bump with a heavy loss at Bayern. There is no shame in losing to the Rekordmeister, but with Bochum winning, they find themselves in the bottom three with just two games left.
They face a massive games against Eintracht Frankfurt next weekend, but will have to do without the services of Marius Bülter, who will have sit out the game through suspension having picked up one yellow card too many against Bayern.
Fabian Bredlow & Joshua Vagnoman
After taking the lead against Bayer Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart managed to deny themselves a potentially vital three points by allowing a tired Werkself back into the game. Following Serhou Guirassy’s penalty to open the scoring in the second half, keeper Fabian Bredlow had a moment of madness as he took out Edmond Tapsoba with little danger of the Leverkusen defender reaching the ball. The resulting penalty was dispatched by Exequiel Palacios.
Soon after Joshua Vagnoman suffered arguably the miss of the season when he failed to direct an easy header into the back of the gaping net from close-range after a Guirassy flick-on to the far post. How costly it proves come the end of the season remains to be seen.
Hoffenheim’s loss to VfL Wolfsburg keeps them in the danger zone, but it could have been a different story had striker Munas Dabbur had his striking boots on at the Volkswagen Arena. In the 57th minute the Israeli wasted a glorious chance to get his side level when clean through on goal with support. Instead of rounding the keeper or passing to the free Christoph Baumgartner, he chose to go himself and missed.
“A key moment when you run two against one towards the goalkeeper and only have to cross to score the goal,” said coach Pellegrino Matarazzo afterwards, “That would have been the equalizer, and then you are completely different in the game. This scene determines the momentum of the game to a certain extent. You first have to come to terms with the fact that you didn’t take advantage of a scoring chance, that does something to a team.”
Dabbur, whose birthday it is on Sunday, won’t want to spend his special day rewatching the highlights of the game, as for him there weren’t any!